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Vaporware - the Tech That Never Was

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the beautiful-vapour-hanging-in-the-air dept.

Technology 192

An anonymous reader writes "CNet has published an incredibly detailed look at the most critical examples of vaporware ever seen in the tech sector. We're familiar with Wired's yearly round-ups, but this decades-long retrospective look at the most promising of all technologies that never saw the light of day, holds some fascinating technology I've never even heard of, including the wonderfully-named three-dimensional atomic holographic optical data storage nanotechnology. 'Continual delays, setbacks and excuses are the calling cards of a product that becomes vapourware. Windows Vista ran the risk of joining the club, and the terrific multiplayer first-person shooter Team Fortress 2 was in production for almost a decade before it was released in 2007. Devoted TF fans feared it would become a distinguished entrant in the who's who of vapourware. You might say Google Mail is in the running, having been in beta since 2004.'"

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192 comments

PENIS PENIS HAHAHAHAHAHA PENIS LOL ROFLCOPTER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739086)

Vaporpenis ... the cock that never got hard

Google Mail (3, Interesting)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739136)

Nah, not Google Mail. Google's just redefined the meaning of beta...

Re:Google Mail (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739222)

Exactly. If both Hotmail and Yahoo mail have taken design cues from Gmail, I doubt that Gmail is on its way out. My first choice of commercial email handlers is Gmail, then hotmail for a standard throw-away email.

Re:Google Mail (1, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740626)

I was about to make fun of you for having Hotmail in the number 2 position, but now that I think about it, Yahoo mail has gone to seed lately whereas Hotmail has improved.

Crazy.

Re:Google Mail (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739316)

Gmail made a brilliant move by always calling their service a beta release. This way, when your email never arrives, or your personal information gets stolen, it's not their fault... it's just a beta release! Google can always argue that if you want reliable and secure communications, you should use a service that is a final release.

Disclaimer for Google fans: I'm not saying Gmail is not stable or reliable, just stating one possible business strategy.

Re:Google Mail (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740038)


I disagree.

I think perhaps they may just not have met there design goals. Everyone complains about companies releasing untested software which intern cripple production. Here it is possible that they want a final tested roll out before releasing the product. I've used gmail for teh past few years and typically four times a year they add some feature. I'm sure once they have realized a final feature set and tested it on a google scale (millions of users) then they will finalize it. However if you want an e-mail app for mission critical stuff simply don't use it.

Re:Google Mail (2, Interesting)

Creepy (93888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739728)

for that matter, I don't think it's even their oldest beta -
the former froogle, now renamed google products [google.com]), predates it by a year or so. I believe froogle entered beta around Christmas 2002 or 2003. Some google labs [google.com] stuff (non-beta testing and ideas area) is even older.

Re:Google Mail (1, Funny)

rodrosenberg (1188441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739768)

HAha with the amount of bugs in software these days like Windows Vista and Home Server the whole beta tag looks like it should be on more products!

Re:Google Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739800)

HAha, yeah man that's hilarious LOL

paranoia (4, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739792)

Call me paranoid, but calling most of their products "beta" seems to me like an sneaky way of avoiding any sort of liability whatsoever for any problems that might arise. I'm not saying Google *should* be liable, but I think these beta tags have more to do with legal reasons than technical ones.

Google Mail is not Vaporware (4, Insightful)

romonster (940984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739140)

You might say Google Mail is in the running, having been in beta since 2004
According to this Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] (or, more specifically, its sources), Google Mail has 10s of millions of users. I'd hardly call that Vaporware.

Re:Google Mail is not Vaporware (4, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739318)

Indeed, being out there and being in beta isn't Vaporware. The term typically means it has been announced by a company's marketing department despite no work having been done on it.

Usually it's a way of confusing the consumer into sitting on the fence.

So for example people is about to buy an mp3 player from (for example) Creative, so Microsoft then announces a super improved Zune which probably hasn't even been designed yet. The design team knock up a nice 3D representation in a graphics application and release it.

Old vaporware (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739156)

1) Commercial fusion power production
2) Practical flying car
3) Oil from shale and other low grade sources (promised to be viable at $40-$50/bbl)
4) Household robots (or robot overlords, take your pick)
5) Cure for common cold

Re:Old vaporware (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739304)

I'd say #3 is probably already in the works, but it takes time for people to get the production going with stuff like that. The price of oil has skyrocketed so fast that new producers have not had a chance to get started yet. Also, there are some of them that are a bit gun shy from when they tried this in the 80s and lost their shirt when the price of oil collapsed. Although I don't see how yet, it is certainly possible that the price of oil could go back down in a couple of years.

Re:Old vaporware (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739682)

It will absolutely go back down. That's just supply and demand.

The thing people miss on supply and demand is that demand isn't any more a constant than supply. As the supply shrinks, price soars, and demand drops. People find alternatives...They drive less, carpool more. In the 80's everyone dumped their gas guzzing american cars for more fuel efficient imports. The decrease in demand drove the price back down.

Then in the 90's along comes the SUV craze, so everyone goes back to buying gas guzzlers. Now we're back in the same boat. Eventually the supply will start constricting on the other end (e.g. "Peak Oil") and alternative fuels will become more popular. The increased demand there will push an increase in suppliers, increasing the supply and driving down the price.

Historically, you never see a price go up forever. Either the resource is finite, or the cost drives the adoption of alternatives, which become popular enough to pull demand away from the original resource.

Re:Old vaporware (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740126)

But the oil cartels don't play with supply and demand. They have the entire supply, and can do what they want with it. While it still profits them, they will keep oil prices high. And, who's to say that the gasoline produced from oil is the only thing keeping prices high? What about the rising demand for power in China, or other developing nations, or even in the US? I'm no expert on these things (thus the AC posting), but cars are not the only thing driving the oil prices high.

Although, come to think of it, the price of raw oil isn't the only thing causing high gas prices; there are numerous taxes (should be listed on the pumps, at least in the States) added. They are there because the city, county, state, and federal governments know we have to get to work and most of us drive, so it's easy money for them.

I do have to agree with you on the finite resource/Peak Oil issue, but are we not still a number of years away from that? I feel that, until then, oil prices will remain high.

Re:Old vaporware (0)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740580)

Eh. I'd bet they'll drop after the end of summer like they usually do. I don't ever foresee it getting "cheap" again though, not until we've got a better alternative...I'm old enough that "cheap" means a dollar a gallon, and we haven't seen that in a long time.

China uses vastly more coal than oil (unfortunately for them) as far as power goes (78%), and we use a decent amount here was well (50%)...Fortunately we have "better" coal (e.g. "black" (anthracite and bituminous) rather than "brown" (lignite or sub-bituminous) coal), but it's still far from clean. The vast majority of petroleum is used by vehicles...Oil is about 35% of the worlds total energy consumption, but only about 7% of the total electrical generation...For the whole world, coal accounts for about 40% of the electrical generation, to give you an idea.

I don't think the current price jumps are artificial though; the oil companies hardly need to do anything, the market is making them rich all by itself. As for taxes, I'm pro gas tax; the easiest way to wean consumers off of their gas guzzlers is to raise the cost to them. Anyway, our taxes are a joke compared to the level of gas taxes they have in europe.

As far as peak oil goes, no one really knows, though everyone claims they know. Some people say it's already happened, some people say it'll be any time now, some people say we've got a century. Lot of the industry groups say we've got ~50 years left, but that doesn't account for changes in consumption.

Re:Old vaporware (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739882)

The increased price of oil should make this more viable. It may not have worked out at $40 a barrel, but right now if they can produce it at $80 a barrel it would be a marketable source. It's tough referring to some of this as vaporware - most of them are good ideas, but economics and technology haven't quite caught up with them yet.

Re:Old vaporware (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739986)

The increased price of oil should make this more viable. It may not have worked out at $40 a barrel, but right now if they can produce it at $80 a barrel it would be a marketable source. It's tough referring to some of this as vaporware - most of them are good ideas, but economics and technology haven't quite caught up with them yet.


But that has been claimed about these technologies for decades. Commercial fusion is always 20 years off. Oil shale production needs oil at $40-$50 barrel. When these points are reached, either the goalposts are moved or LOOK, OVER THERE, A DISTRACTION. Hence, vaporware.

And I wouldn't consider the Roomba to be a household robot. It's hard automation, much like a dishwasher. The fact that it moves doesn't change that. A robot which could do the dishes or laundry without special help (e.g. RFID dishes), that's more along the lines of what I'm thinking of.

Re:Old vaporware (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740280)

But that has been claimed about these technologies for decades. Commercial fusion is always 20 years off. Oil shale production needs oil at $40-$50 barrel. When these points are reached, either the goalposts are moved or LOOK, OVER THERE, A DISTRACTION. Hence, vaporware.


Maybe, but what's decades when it comes to technology like this. I remember watching the original Star Trek when I was a kid and thinking how crazy the idea of a handheld communicator was. Now I've got two very similar devices sitting on the desk in front of me. I can't call space, but probably only because I don't have the number for the ISS. Some of these ideas may never be viable, but some are just waiting on the right conditions. You have to remember, we only recently reached a high for oil in terms of an inflation adjusted price. $40-$50 oil 20 years ago equates closer to $80-$100 oil now. Being above that will make shale oil more attainable.

And I wouldn't consider the Roomba to be a household robot. It's hard automation, much like a dishwasher. The fact that it moves doesn't change that. A robot which could do the dishes or laundry without special help (e.g. RFID dishes), that's more along the lines of what I'm thinking of.


A Roomba is a long way from a dishwasher. I agree, not full AI, but it's constantly getting closer. There is continual research into AI and robotics. Eventually this will result in more sophisticated home machines... or skynet. Unless some hard limitations are met in terms of processing power or manufacturing that makes intelligent robots impossible/not cost effective to build, it will happen.

Re:Old vaporware (2, Insightful)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740506)

A Roomba is a long way from a dishwasher. I agree, not full AI, but it's constantly getting closer. There is continual research into AI and robotics. Eventually this will result in more sophisticated home machines... or skynet. Unless some hard limitations are met in terms of processing power or manufacturing that makes intelligent robots impossible/not cost effective to build, it will happen.
I agree. My dishwasher is 100% reliable and always does exactly what it's supposed to do. My Roomba is completely worthless. I couldn't find a single room in the house that it can cope with. It is completely unable to deal with area rugs or cords (lamp cords or computer cables). Its drop sensors usually prevented it from driving completely over the edge of a step, but it would just perch precariously on the edge of a step without backing away. Running an old fashioned upright vacuum cleaner is just much less of a hassle.

Re:Old vaporware (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740766)

I agree. My dishwasher is 100% reliable and always does exactly what it's supposed to do. My Roomba is completely worthless.


Fair enough. I don't have one, so I can't comment on the quality of the product, but there are a lot of people out there (like you) that have bought one. It may be worthless, but seems like a fairly successful product, and proof that more development into home robotics is a worthwhile endeavor.

Re:Old vaporware (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739354)

Oil sands in Canada has been in production for a while.

Suncor [yahoo.com] has been making money at it for some time.

Re:Old vaporware (2, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739428)

4) Household robots
Depending on how picky you are about you definition of 'household robots", there are a number of them [wikipedia.org] commercially available. (Note: I would have linked to irobots's web page, but it appears to be experiencing difficulty. Perhaps one of their business robots washed the server...)

Re:Old vaporware (1)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739906)

I dunno about #4.

I have a Roomba. Every day when I come home my carpets in my flat are clean.

My ONLY interaction with Roomba is emptying the bin twice a week and cleaning the brushes twice a month. Probably 1 hour a month, total.

Sure, it's not exactly Rosie, but it's certainly a robot.

Re:Old vaporware (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739988)

3, 4 and 5 are doing OK.

Oil Sands:

http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OurBusiness/oilsands.asp [gov.ab.ca]

(not a huge amount of output, but it has every appearance of being 'viable', it just isn't productive enough to satisfy demand so much that prices actually drop)

Roomba is a hit.

There are vaccines for the common cold. They aren't perfect, but they are either well marketed enough or effective enough that millions of people get them. If it's the marketing, they are vaporware, if they work, they aren't.

Re:Old vaporware (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740114)

There is already a cure for the common cold. It was invented a while ago, they called it the "immune system". Not sure if it's still in beta though. I believe some l33t hax0r known only as AIDS has found an exploit, but requires root access in order to penetrate the system's perimeter. At the moment, the best defence is from a company called "Durex", who manufacture a patch for your hardware.

Sim Mars (1)

jschen (1249578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739186)

Interesting stuff. I think I would have enjoyed Sim Mars.

Re:Sim Mars (3, Informative)

Sqweegee (968985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739312)

There was Mars scenario available Sim Earth released for the SNES, PC, Amiga, and a few others. There was also a Venus, Ice planet, and Desert planet... The scenarios involved terraforming the planet to support evolving life.

http://strategywiki.org/wiki/SimEarth:_The_Living_Planet [strategywiki.org]

Re:Sim Mars (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739620)

From the article "Can you imagine some of the expansion pack titles we could've seen?"

I misread that as titties as first and thought "Whaaat?"

I need to get out more.

How many (4, Insightful)

Kelz (611260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739202)

times does C-net need to run the same story per year? It seems whenever they remember something else they come out with a new list (like once per month).

Re:How many (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739426)

I found it more interesting that the number of comments varies from page to page. Some of the comments disappear when you go to the next page and spring back to life on the page after.

Re:How many (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739850)

Whenever they need a few thousand extra page impressions by spanning a half-page article over eleven pages.

Oh, come on. GMail? (5, Insightful)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739230)

Why do people say GMail is vaporware?

I mean, you can use it. You've been able to use it for years. It's on the web, it's easily accessible, it wouldn't surprise me if it's used by millions of people.

Google's calling it "beta" because they don't think it's worthy of a non-beta release. That's [i]all it means[/i]. Google has higher standards for "non-beta" than other companies do, apparently - they're still adding major features and I suspect that's at least partially related to its beta status.

Why does it mean so much to have it not be called beta anymore? Because, I mean, if that one word really causes you so much mental anguish, I bet I could provide a Greasemonkey script to get rid of it.

Google's decided it's not finished. I'm willing to defer to their judgement. Honestly, it's a nice change from "feature-complete 1.0 software" that crashes every five minutes.

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739308)

Speaking of Greasemonkey, I really need to come up with a Greasemonkey script to convert VBcode into HTML on Slashdot. I swear I make that mistake in every third comment.

Sheesh.

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739326)

Or you could use the Preview button.

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739362)

Honestly, I've done that and still managed to miss it before. I don't really expect to make mistakes with markup that simple (and, due to spending most of my posting time on a VB board, I expect to be able to edit my posts also - something I truly wish Slashdot had.)

An unfortunate set of cross-site reflexes. So it goes.

Eat my goatse'd penis! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739388)

See subject

Goatse [twofo.co.uk]

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739542)

Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with standards, higher or otherwise.

I think it has been in "beta" so long, that if it were ever announced to be "released", people would expect something new and whizzy, which completely destroys the point of distinguishing "beta software" from "release software". However its questionable whether these categories have much value any longer.

The reason the beta doesn't come off is that there isn't any such thing as released software anymore. In the early days, the beta label warned people that gmail might not work with their browser; these that warning is as close to superfluous as it will ever be. What has changed since the "beta/release" terminology was introduced into the common language is the discrediting of the waterfall project management model -- not that people are any better at project management than they used to be. Using agile methods, you're continually do small releases, so you never have a final "released" product.

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (1)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740430)

The Waterfall method has it's uses, and certainly hasn't been "discredited." If what you were going for was the advent of agile techniques make certain things faster/more effective, than I wholeheartedly agree. But just a point of reference, I'm pretty sure i missed out on a job opportunity because the interviewer kept saying that "everything should be done using Agile methods," and I disagreed. He kept pushing, and I saw he wasn't a big fan of me. I then asked him how many iterations it would take to design a building or an airplane, before he got it right? How would you test that?

Certain things do not have changing requirements, which is the key use for agile methods. If you know exactly what your system needs to do (I know, rare)- than a strict adherence to some Agile methods could prolong the project.

That said, gmail is perfectly suited for agile methods, hence the perpetual beta.

Re:Oh, come on. GMail? (2, Insightful)

teleriddler (904253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739956)

Actually I think the main reason Google calls most of it non feature complete software "beta" is for legal terms. Our company does the same thing. If we call it beta, we have legal language that severely limits what a client can demand and receive from both product performance and compensation should anything perform incorrectly. Chalk this one up to the lawyers. --TR

Not so much vapourware... (5, Funny)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739234)

I don't know about anyone else, but when I were but a young'un, I remember being told by various techie fortune tellers that when I grew up GAMES would be completely virtual reality based complete with headsets/central-nervous-system connections, and nothing like the cutting edge 8-bit bitmaps bouncing across the screen with cheesy 2 tone music of the day.

I still remember the huge disappointment at trying my first VR system in some crappy French arcade years after that...instead of bouncing bitmaps, it was no more than maybe 20 untextured polygons being rendered before my eyes on a headset big & heavy enough to crush a small mammal. Yeah ok, so I could look around, but at a glorious 15 FPS I got sick after about 2 minutes and probably would've come face-to-face with my breakfast for the 2nd time that day had the credit not have run out due to the fact I didn't know what the I was supposed to be doing (bitch slapping the "evil plain-red polygon" with the mechanical wand one presumed).

My question really is; has has gaming tech progressed any further in this area? Rare is the occasion I see anything remotely VR anywhere now, (apparently, even the French have given up on it - a sure sign it's a shit idea), and yet still I would love to fulfil my childhood dreams of running care-free through a futuristic sci-fi world with a Big Fuckoff LaserGun (tm)....in a virtual reality, not in my bedroom.

Re:Not so much vapourware... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739350)

First consumer VR applications will be pr0n-based, mark my words. If you want to be in the first wave of home VR-users, keep your eye on the pr0n scene. Games and other mainstream applications will follow.

That's why I'm keeping my eye on it. You know, I'm just hanging out waitng for some "interesting technological developments."

Re:Not so much vapourware... (2, Funny)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740458)

Reminds me of the "feelies" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - a new kind of movie experience in which you feel what's happening as well as seeing and hearing it, which is mainly used for pornography. Any tech that appeals to the senses in a more intense way than previously possible is probably going to be used for porn. Unless it appeals to the sense of smell, of course - Eau de Sweaty Muscle Man, anyone?

Re:Not so much vapourware... (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740416)

The Nintendo Wii is the closest thing I can think of to VR, today, that is commercial in nature.

Re:Not so much vapourware... (2, Informative)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740486)

"has has gaming tech progressed any further in this area? "

Depends by what you specifically mean by 'progressed'.

Has gaming graphically improved? Hell yes. Look at the current tech demos for Age of Conan - particularly someone swimming in the water - and you'll be impressed. And this isn't some specifically rendered scene in a single player game. This is an open-activity world meant for hundreds and thousands of simultaneous players.

Has gaming developed substantially better tools in terms of multiple people interacting on the same virtual world? Hell yes. See my point about AoC above. The interactivity of multi user persistent worlds is miles beyond what you mention. (Note - I should mention Second Life. For some reason they get a lot of attention here and the pop-press, but they are at least a *decade* behind what I would say is the minimum standard today for Massively Online Persistent worlds. Don't use what you see there as any sort of benchmark for what is "today".)

Have VR tools advanced substantially? Again, yes. Recently I've seen 360-degree displays in extraordinarily high resolution, along with motion sensor technology that's amazingly precise, even some kludged from the Wii controller. What's really impressed me is that I saw a 'cage' motion simulator that was essentially a hollow-ball of a cage that you could stand in, so that you could MOVE in a VR world, from walking to running, and your avatar would move.

Has the synthesis of these things advanced? Less than you might think. I think the gaming industry has seen that there really isn't much of a market for VR systems. I could speculate on a number of reasons:
- most consumers seem to be perfectly happy with the current experience*
- most consumers couldn't currently afford even the top-end 2d-computer-vr gear, much less 3d stuff
- unsolved human equilibrium problems. If every sense is telling you you're riding in a spinning teacup, but your inner-ear disagrees, that's a recipe for motionsickness. Not many find that an entertaining time.

* because ultimately, it's about suspension of disbelief. Let's say I could have the ultimate home-VR experience - a headset that displays in perfect 3d, with perfect 3d sound, photorealistic resolution, I don't get dizzy, etc. I'm still just sitting there. There's still going to be a requirement for a user-interface that lets me move & function as if I was there. Will the increase in visual/audio realism (only) be worth the increase in price, while VR is hobbled by the need for some sort of human input device? Personally, I don't think so.

Holographic Storage (2, Informative)

Moosechees (194176) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739278)

The same holographic storage mentioned in the article was featured on Slashdot two years ago.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/28/2226239 [slashdot.org]

Re:Holographic Storage (2, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739514)

it's actually available [inphase-technologies.com], apparently, but i'm pretty sure it's ridiculously priced. it's certainly not targeted at the average consumer.

i've been anxiously waiting for news of a consumer-level product for 2 years now. alas, still not in sight.

Political Vapourware (5, Insightful)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739286)

Politicians make their living off of the same vapourware every election-- and for some inexplicable reason, the masses keep buying into it. How about a short list?
1. Balanced Budget
2. Peace in our time
3. Raise education standards
4. Economic security

At first glance, this may seem off-topic, but I would submit that vapourware is inevitable to anyone who is asking for money/power and promises to give you something later. Companies release press 'early' (vapourware) in the hopes of bouying their stock price or raising VC money; politicians promise the moon to get campaign contributions (VC money). Same thing.

Re:Political Vapourware (2, Insightful)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739466)

Companies release press 'early' (vapourware) in the hopes of bouying their stock price or raising VC money; politicians promise the moon to get campaign contributions (VC money).
I agree totally with your post. However, I would like to add one other thing. I believe companies also announce products so that the consumer doesn't buy their competitor product (and get inundated) even before it's released. For example, Levono 'leaked' their X300 [gizmodo.com]. Yeah, you're telling me that wasn't calculated.

Re:Political Vapourware (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739830)

Well...
2 is in Conflect with 4
1 is in Conflect with 3

Peace and Economic Security cant both happen because there are a limited amount of resources available. If you have World Peace we will have a problem with Econimic security because all resources will be shared to a point where we will not have enough to properly survive (not very secure) Of if we obtain Economic Security We will need to make sure that we the Haves are stronger then the Have Nots who will rebel against us.

The biggest cry that keeps our budget from being balance is "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" and Education is the biggest yeller of that (mostly because their job is to think about the future of children) But the more they have the more they will want. There is always more you can do to improve education, but you need to find trade offs, in order to keep the budget balance.

Re:Political Vapourware (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740690)

I would say that most, if not all, of the rest of the industrialized world would argue that we could have a better educational system in this country, and still balance our budget. How many countries with better public education than the US have budgets that are as severely out of whack as ours? How many G8 countries have had to continually raise their debt ceilings, and borrow more money every year, throwing their budgets further into the red?

Re:Political Vapourware (5, Insightful)

srussell (39342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740230)

Politicians make their living off of the same vapourware every election-- and for some inexplicable reason, the masses keep buying into it. How about a short list?
Well, some of these things have been achieved. They just aren't perpetual.

1. Balanced Budget
Done, during the Clinton administration. Subsequently undone.

2. Peace in our time
We've had presidencies during which the US hasn't been in any open conflict with any other country. But this really depends on what you mean by "peace." Are we at peace if, somewhere in the country, some guy is beating his wife? Are we at peace if we're not at war with anybody, but somebody, somewhere, is? Are we at peace if we have an embargo on some other country?

3. Raise education standards
You could argue that the US is more educated than it ever has been. More people have advanced degrees than ever have, and more poor people have degrees. Public K12 education certainly hasn't been improving overall in a long while, but again, it depends on what standards you're measuring -- what's your definition of education standards?

4. Economic security
The last time that happened was when social security was instituted. I don't even know what this would look like -- everybody gets a guaranteed minimum wage? Everybody is guaranteed a job? The stock market only goes up? What?

--- SER

Next Photo (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739302)

Do they really think I'm going to press the 'Next Photo' button 11 times?

Re:Next Photo (2, Insightful)

LMacG (118321) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739632)

I think we can fill in step 3 . . .

1. Set up vaguely geek-related article on multiple pages,

2. Make sure each page is full of pay-per-impression ads,

3. Post to Slashdot,

4. PROFIT!!!

Vaporware as a strategy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739328)

A large company can use vaporware as a strategy to fight smaller companies. Back in the 1980s, my brother's company was well on the way to producing a killer (for the day) graphics application. Lotus (iirc) announced that they were releasing the same thing in a couple of months. My brother's company quit working on the project because they didn't feel they could compete with Lotus. The Lotus app did not materialize in a month. It didn't materialize in a year even. My brother's product would have been first to market if it had been continued.

It's a good strategy. Tell a lie to scare everyone else off. Take your sweet time producing an app into a competition free market.

Without even looking... (2, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739406)

Here's my list of most significant vapor promises that never got delivered:

1) Nuclear Fusion power plants
2) Room-temperature Superconductor
3) Human exploration/Colonization of interplanetary space
4) Faster-than-light space travel
5) Humanlike AI
6) World Peace

If we could get any of these delivered, it'd be really nice. But I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Without even looking... (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739548)

1) Nuclear Fusion power plants
2) Room-temperature Superconductor
3) Human exploration/Colonization of interplanetary space
4) Faster-than-light space travel
5) Humanlike AI
6) World Peace
7) Hot, smart, horny bisexual women totally turned on by the brainpower of nerd-studs. *sigh* Heinlein, how could you have steered us so wrong?

Re:Without even looking... (4, Funny)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739556)

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is clearly the most significant vapor promise that never got delivered. The marketing organization has been promoting it for almost two thousand years and they still haven't delivered.

Re:Without even looking... (2, Insightful)

Spleen (9387) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740070)

I always laugh when I hear this. As a child I was taught that Jesus was born (1st coming) and then was crucified. He was then resurrected (2nd coming) before ascending into heaven.

Does only a resurrection count as a "coming"? Seems to me they are either promoting something that has already happened, or should be promoting the 3rd coming.

Re:Without even looking... (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740476)

The marketing organization has been promoting it for almost two thousand years and they still haven't delivered.

And yet, people are still buying. That's some marketing organization.

Re:Without even looking... (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740594)

It only qualifies as vaporware if someone says "I have it" but can not actually deliver it. Just because something is technologically or politically far away doesn't mean it's vaporware. In medieval times someone could have made a list like this:

1) machines allowing humans to fly
2) power transferred over copper wires
3) instantaneous voice communication to other continents
4) machines which can add, subtract and multiply
5) settling new continents
6) peace in Europe

whats sad... (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739454)

The optimus maximus, a once proud co-leader (duke nukem forever) had to be removed from this list for violating the rules of the club and actually getting released.

Most were doomed from the start. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739494)

The only one I really liked in the list was the Digital Film, I wish I came up with it... But most of them are doomed to failure. Such as the printed Paper Storage...
Most Printers can do 1200 DPI Printing so lets assume that we can print crip color dots (perhaps with solid ink printers) on a 8.5x11 paper you han hold 134,640,000 dots per page. So except for storing it in binary we can store the data in Base 5. Lets assume At best they can mix a few colors to make each dot one Byte. Still that is only 128.4 megs per Page. If you print double sided you can double that... But lets look at the Cost $0.08 per page and assuming this best case senio it will cost $0.60 per Gig of storage. You can Get external drives that cost less then $0.50 per Gig. And it will allow Faster Reading and Writting and changes wont require a full Recycle bin of Paper.

Does IT Qualify? (0)

BigAssRat (724675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739528)

The Segway seems to fall into this category if you ask me. Never really delivered on its promise.

Q-Trax = Monty Python Cheese Shop (2, Funny)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739568)

I feel some small grain of sympathy for Q-Trax having to deal with the record labels, but there are quite a few free, legal services that let you listen to any music you want, on demand, they all managed to get licenses figured out. It's one things to launch with limited content, it's another to arrange a million dollar launch party before the deals have been signed.
At the time I equated the Q-Trax experience to Mr Wensleydale's cheese emporium in the famous monty python sketch.
http://snm.imeem.com/blogs/2008/01/30/oF1HiZ3f/monty_python_vs_qtrax [imeem.com]
(slashdot won't let me post it since it ends up with too few characters per line....)

Corrected summary piece... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739646)

"Windows Vista ran the risk of joining the club, but unfortunately didn't"

Small point... (-1, Redundant)

Jenos (1255810) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739656)

...Gmail isn't in beta any longer.

Re:Small point... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22739856)

When I go to www.gmail.com it still says "beta" right under the logo in the upper left corner

paper storage (1)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739698)

No one has ever thought to use paper [wikipedia.org] as a storage medium. Nope. [wikipedia.org]
DISCLAIMER: Yeah, I know the technology is totally different. Sue me.

E-Film... (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739802)

Funny, but that wasn't a vaporware product... the actual device shown may have been, but before dSLRs, people could acquire "digital backs" for their SLR cameras to turn them into digital cameras. So the technology isn't new, innovative, or even vaporware. While everyone was raving over "point and shoot" digital cameras, the serious guys wanted something for their SLRs.

It was just that it easily cost around $10,000, so not many could afford them.

Then dSLRs came onto the market and that ended that reign. And these days, they're well within the reach of amateur photographers, costing not much more than a high-end point and shoot...

You've never heard of T.D.A.H.O.D.S.N.? (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739838)

And here I thought three-dimensional atomic holographic optical data storage nanotechnology was practically a house-hold term. I'm shocked to hear it's vapourwear, shocked.

Re:You've never heard of T.D.A.H.O.D.S.N.? (1)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740736)

Speaking of which, that's why I clicked on the link and read the article.....except the article mentions nothing about T.D.A.H.O.D.S.N.

Harumph!

 

Scratch-proof coating (1)

NotPeteMcCabe (833508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22739874)

I remember reading a year or so ago -- it was probably two or three by now -- that some company had a scratch-proof coating that was going to revolutionize everything. The company gave the person who wrote the article a CD coated with the stuff and and he rubbed it with a pad of steel wool for several minutes, which produced no damage.

Where the hell is this? Supposedly it was just a couple of months away. My Netflix account would be a lot more valuable if I never got a scratched disc again. And if my iPhone had this over the screen that would be pretty dandy.

Re:Scratch-proof coating (1)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740450)

On BluRay disks, perhaps? The scratchproof coating was a key development for BluRay; originally they were to be delivered in cartridges to protect the surface.

Hmm... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740326)

Hearing the term vaporware brings to mind duke nuke forever, flying cars, rocket packs, death rays, immortality drugs, cures for any disease, fusion, zero point/vacuum energy, quantum/DNA computers, electric cars, and AI.

Those fields and a few others I just ignore all PR news until there are products that I can buy from Walmart or Target.

Vaporware can come through.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740498)

What about the people using school bus sized computers to calculate 3 + 5 back in the 50's? They though that a computer in every household was nonsense. Little did they know what the future would bring. Heck, I have over 10 (working) computers in my house. Lets think about all the vaporware that actually come through.

Paper Storage... (1)

Kaukomieli (993644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740510)

This paper-storage-thingy ain't _that_ stupid. Optical and magnetic storage-devices tend to degrade quickly, while paper can last for a very long time. The main problem I would see is if he uses colours for coding since it will change over time.

This could bascially be used as a compression algorithm for books...

PowerBASIC / Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22740560)

It was announced at Fall Comdex 98. In the forum for long it was touted as "in development". Their FAQ still claim it's one of their top priorities.

But what are ten years between friends ?

Coleco ADAM anyone? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22740644)

How could they leave out the Coleco ADAM, the spin-off "expansion" to the Colecovision, the most popular post-Atari 2600 console to that time?

And, unlike most of these, the ADAM actually saw the light of day in production and sales. It's the software for it that was vaporware. Legion were the games promised and touted in newsletters, but very few actually saw the light of day.

You could even buy the CP/M operating system for it, which included a text editor and an assembler, should you wish to do programming in assembly language. Which was your only choice other than the built-in Basic.

But there were at least several dozen games promised (Tunnels and Trolls being one of the most promising) that never appeared, though I think the Dragon's Lair and the Smurf ADAM upgraded version both were released.
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